HomeNewsBrief30 Buses Burned in Honduras This Year as Result of Extortion
BRIEF

30 Buses Burned in Honduras This Year as Result of Extortion

EXTORTION / 25 AUG 2016 BY LUIS FERNANDO ALONSO EN

More than two dozen buses have been torched so far this year in Honduras, a fiery display of the consequences when numerous gangs earn a significant portion of their revenue by extorting the public transportation sector. 

Jorge Lanza, head of the National Council of Transportation in Honduras, says that at least 30 urban and intercity buses have been burned in 2016. He blamed the burnings on extortion rackets targeting the country's bus companies, reported El Heraldo.

"The attacks against transportation groups are a sign that insecurity in Honduras continues while the authorities remain indifferent," Lanza told El Heraldo.

The most recent bus torching occurred on August 23 in Comayagüela, which along with Tegucigalpa makes up Honduras' Central District. The bus driver and his assistant were reportedly admitted to a local hospital with first and second-degree burns. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The high number of bus burnings is a symptom of the numerous criminal actors involved in extortion of Honduras' transportation sector. Extortion is either the most important or one of the most important sources of income for all of the country's gangs, including the MS13 and Barrio 18 but also smaller groups like the Chirizos. And the transportation industry is especially lucrative; following extensive field research in Honduras last year, InSight Crime estimated a single gang in Tegucigalpa can make up to $2.5 million each year by extorting public transport vehicles. (See InSight Crime graph below)

16-08-25-honduras-gangs-extortion-chart

SEE ALSO: Special Report on Gangs in Honduras

In some instances, several gangs will be extorting a bus driver at the same time. This makes it hard for the drivers to earn a living, much less afford hefty extortion fees, which the gangs euphemistically call "war taxes."  When the fees are not paid, retribution from the gangs is swift, and many bus drivers suffer a worse fate than having their vehicle torched. Sixty-three public transport workers were killed in just the first five months of 2016, according to the Violence Observatory at the National Autonomous University of Honduras.

Honduras has improved its efforts to combat extortion. The country's anti-extortion force has arrested over 400 people so far this year, and authorities seized a large sum of assets belonging to the MS13 that they say were derived from extortion revenue. But the bus torchings, bus driver deaths and complaints about the government's "indifference" reveal the authorities have yet to rein in extortion of the public transportation sector. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ELITES AND CRIME / 4 MAR 2020

Authorities in the United States allege that a recently arrested drug trafficker in Honduras relied on protection from President Juan…

EXTORTION / 3 APR 2014

The execution-style murder of an employee at a public university in Mexico has shed light on the extortion of staff…

HONDURAS / 21 NOV 2016

The United States' Embassy in Honduras has warned of an increase in the demand for Honduran "coyotes" to smuggle people…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.